Native Hawaiians move to be recognized by U.S. government
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
6/19/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
The United States federal government has declared that is has taken the first step toward recognizing and working with a Native Hawaiian government. The declaration arrives at a time when a growing number of Hawaiians are questioning the legality of the annexation of Hawaii by the United States.
Many critics have said the federal government is pursuing the wrong path. They argue that the federal government's end goal is to incorrectly recognize Native Hawaiians as a Native American tribe.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In this effort, the U.S. Department of the Interior will shortly host a series of public meetings during the next 60 days with Native Hawaiians. They will also be meeting with other members of the public and Native American tribes in the continental U.S. to discuss the complex issue.
"This does not mean we are proposing an actual formal policy," Rhea Suh, assistant secretary for policy, management and budget for the department, said during a conference call with reporters.
"We are simply announcing that we'll begin to have conversations with all relevant parties to help determine whether we should move forward with this process and if so, how we should do it."
In the meantime, Native Hawaiians have been taking steps to form their own government. The possibility of federal recognition, coupled with a growing sense that many Hawaiians want to pursue independence have led some observers to call for a delay in the nation-building process.
The CEO of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs in Hawaii Kamanaopono Crabbe has suggested a delay of at least six months after questions were raised about whether the Hawaiian kingdom still exists in the eyes of the United States.
Creating a government and seeking federal recognition, the two potential steps can happen at the same time, Jessica Kershaw, a spokeswoman for the Interior Department says.
Still, many critics have said the federal government is pursuing the wrong path. They argue that the federal government's end goal is to incorrectly recognize Native Hawaiians as a Native American tribe.
The federal government's process leaves it up to Hawaiians to define themselves, and there would be discussions about whether it makes sense for Hawaiians to pursue a similar tribal designation, Suh said.
"This process only pertains to the relationship between the U.S. government and the Native Hawaiian community," Suh says.
The community meetings would start next week in Honolulu and would elsewhere throughout the state.
The Kingdom of Hawaii existed until 1893 when the monarchy was overthrown by a group of businessmen, most of them Americans. It was an independent republic from 1894 until 1898, when it was annexed by the United States as a territory before becoming a state in 1959.
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